The Must Have For 2012 – A Homebirth

When my friend first told me she was planning for a homebirth over three and a half years ago, I replied with “well I’m not afraid of hospitals.” NIEVE, hell yes. I had no idea what I was so quickly dismissing. I thought that it was only serious hippy types and people with a hospital fear that actually chose to give birth at home. My friend was neither, she was a paediatrician – she knows what goes on in the maternity ward.

When planning for baby #2 I’d already started finding out more and it dawned on me, there was an even better way if the circumstances were right. Due to various circumstances we didn’t plan a homebirth, it just happened. And well, kinda fell into place on the day (erm mind the pun, although I’d not calling that falling, I still had to do a whole lot of hardworking pushing).

I can admit it now, but I wanted a homebirth so much, at one point I’d convinced myself that I was willing to let the dream go. I’m so pleased that I didn’t need to in the end, that it all happened without the stressy prep – better than I could have ever imagined. Mainly down to the midwife I had and my subconscious determination.

I appreciate that the best way to have a homebirth is to plan it, but don’t write it off if you haven’t. A waterproof picnic blanket and old towels was all we needed. But I guess the most important thing is the right frame of mind.

Any chance I get, I can’t help but rave about how good it was. It’s not just me gloating about the most amazing experience of my life. (cough cough…although it is a little, I still brim with pride now). But mostly it’s because I wish more expectant mothers would get switched onto the idea. This is how birth is meant to be. Not all gowns and hand sanitiser, and polished floors and bed rails.

If you are interested in finding out more, why not pop along to this homebirth support site

The Value of a Good Midwife in Labour

For the last eight weeks I’ve been considering how to say thankyou to the midwife who helped me deliver my son at home in September. I’ve been thinking hard about the words that I could use to show my deep gratitude that would show what her assistance meant to me.

For me and many other mothers world over, giving birth is one of life’s great moments. I can firmly say that giving birth to both of my children naturally were the best days of my life. Giving birth at home tops it all. Still now, having had time to reflect, I am still in awe of that day.

The reality is, it would have never happened that way without Teresa, the experienced midwife on call for the day who guided me through it all. Awesome doesn’t quite capture how brilliant she was. I wish all midwives could be like her; experienced, relaxed, supportive and fun. I could not have ever felt more reassured during my labour.

She didn’t just take care of the physical things like checking the baby and telling me when to move into different positions, she focused a lot on the emotional things and enabled me too off load and get my head straight and focused. I always underestimated this side of labour, but now I know it makes a difference and am sure this is one of the big reasons I was able to labour quickly and smoothly (along with the calmness of being in my own home, and having self confidence and belief in my body’s ability).

The fact that by being at home, I had her full attention all of the time, made an even bigger difference. This for me is a major plus point of a homebirth.

So my message is that we should be valuing good midwifery more in society. Birth can be the most beautiful thing if you have the right environment and support.

And what a way to start a new life!

Birth Story: Homebirth Unexpected

A bright orange Gazania flower in full bloom.

Image via Wikipedia

Since the natural hospital delivery of my daughter nearly three years ago, I’d always wanted to go one better. I wanted a homebirth with my second, but after much research and participation one of the monthly meet ups at our local newly established homebirth support the hubby and I concluded that in our current circumstances this could be rather a stressful option.

So we eventually agreed upon the plan to be successful in having a water birth in hospital and to labour at home as long as possible (see blog post here). What we didn’t bank on was a very sudden speeding up of labour at home. We got to a point very suddenly were there was a risk of me actually giving birth in the car. Medically it became advisable that we stay home.

Opting for the homebirth
When the midwife and hubby were indecisive about what to do, after a particularly excruciating contraction I huskily bellowed “we are staying home”. No one was going to mess with me, I was in one of those lioness primal moments. Don’t cross me or I’ll eat you alive! I’d done putting other people’s feelings first, this was what I wanted and there was no way I was leaving that room let alone getting in the car, even for the short journey.

Nothing more was said, they both jumped to their action stations scouring the house for suitable waterproof floor coverings and old towels etc. Out came the waterproof backed picnic blanket (which is now sacred), the bed wetting mat and all our old towels.

The thought of staying at home and pursuing the birth I’d always wanted immediately relaxed me and in turn labour started to slow down a bit.

What?! I thought. I should relax and labour should get faster surely?
But the midwife reassured me later that it was my body’s way of saying “rest and be thankful”, to prepare for the super quick progression ahead. Quicker than any of us thought, with not enough time to even get the pre-warned second midwife present for the birth.

After things had slowed down a bit, I started to feel a little despondent and told myself that this was not allowed, we needed to get this show back on the road. Then it did, I clearly saw the finishing line and was hell-bent on getting to it as quickly as possible. Contractions increased in intensity. You know you’re going full pelt when you think you’re at the end of your tether, sucking as hard as possible on the gas and air and are leaving bite marks on the nozzle. When your efforts to contain noise goes out the window (sorry neighbours). When your birth partner is squeezed so hard they have to swear (he had the bruise to prove it). When you’re legs give way from underneath you, and finally when all you want to do is push!

Hubby clearly didn’t realise how far along we were when he explained that I have a few more gears in me yet. I not so calmly explained that I was going full throttle at that point, I knew I was at transition.

Than a slight fear kicked in
What if I was going to be pushing for four plus hours like my last labour? I didn’t feel like I had it in me, I knew I did really if needed, but I couldn’t bear the thought. My mother Teresa midwife (yes she was called Teresa), reassured me this was definitely NOT going to be the case. Little did I know that an hour later it would all be over and I would be holding my baby.

When I had the urge to push, I honestly thought I was going to have a number two, right there stood up dangling from my husband’s neck on the living room floor. The midwife calmly suggested that after the next contraction I get down on the floor and lean over my birth ball. Then full on pushing commenced. Much to my relief the 20-30 mins pushing felt more like five minutes. And then all of a sudden the intensity, and then the relief as he was born. Wow, it’s over already was all I could think.

From my husband getting home till baby Boyo arriving, it was just over an hour and a half. From being just 3cms to the arrival of the baby it was just under three hours. From the midwife arriving to the birth it was just over four and a half hours.

Born in the caul
My waters never broke, in fact baby Boyo’s head came out still in the amniotic sack of fluid. According to this website, this is very rare, one in 80,000 kind of rare. But slightly more common in homebirths which are much less likely to have any intervention. The midwife had to immediately break open the sack and unwrap the cord from around baby’s neck.

As this was a fast birth and my waters had not broken it would have been a bit of a shock to the baby, so it took about a minute for him to start crying. His agpar score at one minute was only 6 out of 10, but a minute later this jumped up to 9. During this minute hubby held his breath, for me I was too busy breathing a very long sigh of relief that the worst bit of labour was over.

Straight after he cried my little boy was wrapped up in an old towel and handed to me. It was beautiful, one of the most joyful moments of my life. Corny, but so true.

Delayed cord cutting
I’d read a lot about the benefits of delaying the cutting of the cord and daddy didn’t actually cut it for a good hour or so later, after I had naturally birthed the placenta. I was so pleased to both delay the cutting of the cord and to have been able to deliver the placenta totally naturally.

The whole experience can only be described as utterly amazing, I only wish every labouring woman could go through this experience.

Natural Homebirth Birth – Did that just happen?!!!

I’m still in shock and awe at what happened yesterday. In fact I can’t sleep for thinking about it and gazing at my little baby Boyo.

It was better than I can have ever imagined, don’t let the world scare you that it’s some horrific experience. I’m not about to launch into my full birth story here, cause that is going to take some proper writing. But I couldn’t wait to share some of the highlights:

A) No intervention

That is nothing, no internal examine till 1pm to check dilation, and he was born just under three hours later. I was only 3cms dilated at the time but the midwife knew it was ramping up super quick.

B) Homebirth

This is the BIG one for me, I really wanted one but it was just too much of a fear challenge for daddy (quite understably many will agree) for him to get his head around until we reached the point of almost no return. The plan was to labour as long as possible at home and then drive to the low risk birth unit at the hospital just some ten minutes away. It all progressed so quick from my examination at 1pm that getting in the car 45 mins later was almost out of the question.

3) Born in the caul

This means that baby was born in the amnionic sack that surrounded him in the uterus. Usually your waters break or the medical team break them for you to help things progress. His head came out in the sack and the midwife tore it open.

4) Full labour was totally natural, including the third stage of delivering the placenta. Soon after giving birth I had the urge to push, so kneeled up and out it popped. Only pain killing was gas and air plus Tens machine.

5) Total physiological third stage labour and delayed cord cutting

This means you don’t cut the cord early, you let all the remaining oxygen coming from mama be absorbed by the baby. It also meant that we didn’t cut the cord until a good few minutes after the placenta had been delivered. A job that daddy did.

6) Partnership with daddy

This time because I had a midwife one on one at home with me, we chose to wait until I was well established in labour before daddy come home to do his job as the birth partner. It worked very well and kept all as calm as could be. By the time he got home I was ready for his support. Never under estimate the importance of a great daddy as a birth partner in the labour process. We made the perfect team and this time I made him work hard. Running up to ‘transition’ I laboured standing up, hugging him and then finally pretty much hanging from around his neck as my legs could no longer support me and I had the urge to push. Our amazing partnership and teamwork ran flawlessly for the rest of the day.

More coming soon from one euphoric nurturing career mama 🙂

Nearly 41 Weeks Pregnant

thank you note for every language
Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

“Hi, how are you? Still pregnant then?”

“Umm yes, I’d be shouting it from the root tops if I weren’t”

Actually I’m not getting wound up at these kind of enquiries, I’ve been really pleasantly surprised at the amount of people who have been tracking these last few weeks of my pregnancy and want to say thankyou. I appreciate the words of encouragement and the regular contact makes the waiting all the more bearable.

In many ways I’m not surprised that my due date has been and gone and I’ve had my nearly 41 weeks midwife appointment. In other ways, this time last week the I thought the chances were exceptionally slim that I would be sat here today all alone, enjoying another few hours of peaceful chill-out while Babe is at the childminders. I also thought I would be going out of my crazy little mind if I did reach this point. But I’m not, I’m actually feeling calm and philosophical about the whole dragging on process. Besides according to the World Health Organization, you are not officially over due till 42 weeks. So another 8 days yet.

Midewife visit
My midwife came by my house this morning for the routine (nearly) 41 week check up. Where I had the usual checks and it seems baby and I are really fit and well. My blood pressure has continued to stay nice and low and baby Boyo’s heartbeat is good. My bump measures much smaller than last week, from 38cms down to 34cms. But apparently that is because his head is right down in my pelvis now and his back is swung over to the side. As a consequence of him being down low, his movements are pretty uncomfortable, so I’ve been relieved that he is a little quieter. Yesterday I was also able to bend down and contort myself into a position to redo my chipped toe nails without being out of breath – this IS important, as I’m still living in flip-flops (despite the rain). I hope to not be in a position where I need to do the toe nail painting contortionist act again.

What happens next
I go into labour that’s what! No seriously, if that doesn’t happen by Thursday I agreed on some ‘interference’, NOT induction. Induction is a dirty word to me. I’ve made it very clear, that is not an option till next week unless there is a medical requirement. The midwife talked about booking me in for an induction on the 12th day over due, – Sunday. But we discussed and agreed the alternative option, which is to go and see a consultant (pediatrician) on Friday or Monday to be monitored instead. They can then discuss further extension options with me…yippee! Credit to my midwife, she was great today. Even brought me a pack of big floor/bed soaky pad things should my labour progress quicker than I expect and Boyo arrives at home.

In the meantime (for the moment at least) I’m going to make the most of this waiting to enjoy time with Babe, the OH and bask in the glory of getting plenty of sleep.

What NOT To Do When You’re Heavily Pregnant

During the last week I’ve learnt some valuable lessons of what not to do when you’re heavily pregnant and have a toddler in tow.

1) Don’t go to the park without a stroller /buggy when you have a strict home deadline to meet. That is unless you fancy carrying the kicking (biting and pinching) ball of brat home in your arms. Do this once at 40 weeks pregnant and you won’t be doing it again. Partly because your back is so screwed that it will never recover (little over inflation but you appreciate what I’m saying) and partly because you have the bite marks to remind you.

2) Don’t venture near a dual carriageway when the toddler is set on running ahead to press the button for the pedestrian crossing traffic lights. There is clearly no choice but to break into a run to detain the kidlet. Leaving you feeling like you might need to crawl on all fours for the rest of the trip home. Trust me, when baby’s head is pretty much fully engaged and wedged in your pelvis not only does it make you wonder if it’s going to drop out, but it’s pretty uncomfortable too. Fortunately you are so preoccupied in saving your toddler from the perils of the speeding cars, mid run you don’t much notice the discomfort. It’s afterwards you think, mmm that was NOT good. In my case Babe rounded off this experience by deciding she needed to pee on the grassy curbside and proceeded to pull up her dress and begin squatting. “Nooooo” I bellowed, “not here”. She has a thing now for peeing ala carte, out and about.

3) Don’t go shopping with toddler thinking you’ve taken your purse when you havn’t, pay with cheque and then get home and expect not to kick start some contractions in the meltdown resulting from the panicked thought that you’d lost it. Turns out in my case, that my purse was in my handbag at home all along, that was after calling the mobile shop asking them to search high and low, retracing my route to the shop and the park and generally getting into a sobbing dribbly mess. This scenario was combined with item number 1 (above). It resulted in kicking off some great contractions that promptly disappeared when I cried in joy at discovering my purse in my handbag. Doh!

Just Past Midnight and Another Labour False Alarm

The midnight hour was here, the clock had struck and it was officially my birthday. I was asleep at the time working on some weird complex prego dream, when four minutes past I woke suddenly to feel…ooo ouchie. With the thought of ‘oh puck, you little minky, you wait until now to get this labour show on the road.’ I really did think I was going into labour this time, but fortunately it was another practice run. How many rehearsals is this gonna take? Do I keep flunking my lines that much? I didn’t have this first time around, just a long labour.

I have been comforted by knowing that all this prep is likely to result in a quick a smooth labour when it does happen for real.

Today I am tired, because sleep from midnight to four am was very broken and Babe has had me awake early this morning to nurse. So happy birthday to me, and thankyou to Boyo. Now we just need to keep labour away for the rest of the day.

I feel now that this baby really is coming soon. Just not till past midnight tonight please.